October 27, 2013 Updated: October 28, 2013 at 7:45 am
DENVER - That John Fox. What a risk taker.
Danger, not conservative, is his middle name.
Bold like a Fox.
With the Broncos facing a fourth down, and a 14-point deficit, the Broncos coach declared: We are not here to kick field goals!
Go, Peyton, go.
"I thought some fourth-down conversions were the difference in the game," Fox said after the Broncos rolled the dice and rolled the Redskins, 45-21.
On Sunday, Sports Authority Field at Mile High became Fox's roulette wheel.
And when Fox spins, the Broncos win. Big.
Let's hope it stays that way. This was big for the Broncos. Not the score, because the Redskins stink like salmon eggs.
This was big: On fourth-and-short, Fox ordered the Broncos to go for it. Twice.
That was big.
That was Fox base-jumping. This was Fox spending the bye week in Central City.
That was Fox, whose reputation is that of a conservative coach, telling the Broncos he has the ultimate faith in them.
"Coach Fox talks about when we get into their territory, he believes in us," Eric Decker said.
Against Mike Shanahan and the Redskins, Fox and the Broncos took a knee, all right. It came in the victory formation.
"Honestly, I think we should go for it every time," cornerback Chris Harris said. "With Peyton Manning at quarterback? Why not? I wouldn't want to go against that."
Sports are simple. Do what the opponent doesn't want you to do.
NFL opponents don't want Peyton Manning to go for it.
"It was a good day today," Rahim Moore said.
You bet it was.
It was an awesome day. If the Broncos keep this thing rolling all the way to Super Bowl XLVIII, this was a day Colorado should remember as the turning point in their season.
It was the day a football philosophy changed, if only slightly. Instead of going with the percentages, Fox told the Broncos to go for the punch-out.
"Two of them, right? Two of them," Manning repeated, as if for emphasis. "On fourth-and-2 and then again on the touchdown."
Offensive coordinator Adam Gase calls the plays for the Broncos. Manning sometimes changes the plays at the line of scrimmage.
But when it comes down to a big play, a big decision, it goes to the top.
It goes to Fox.
His decision to go for it seemed to stick the Broncos with an IV of Red Bull.
After Fox told them to go for it, the first time, the Broncos scored the next 38 points.
"Oh, yeah. Everybody noticed that," Harris told me.
Here's how the game, and the season, turned for the better:
The Redskins were winning, 21-7. The Broncos had the ball on the Redskins' 20. On fourth-and-2, Manning handed the ball to Knowshon Moreno, who gained 5 yards.
First down, Broncos. Three plays later: touchdown, Broncos.
Gase has a play ready for short-yardage situations, Manning said. They just wait for the "go-ahead" from Fox.
"He gave us the go-ahead," Manning said.
The second time was fourth-and-1 on the Redskins' 1. The Redskins were winning, 21-14.
Go ahead, Fox said. Manning threw a perfect pass to Joel Dreessen.
The rout was on.
The Broncos are on - to something different, something risky, something that is bound to add another page to the opponents' scouting report.
"Certainly as an offense, we like it," Manning said.
No offense to Matt Prater. He's a swell guy with an anvil for a right leg.
But when the Broncos are in the opponent's side of the field, it almost always makes sense to go for it on fourth and short.
With Manning at quarterback, picking up 1, 2 or 3 yards is as simple as, well, counting to 1, 2 or 3.
Why don't the Broncos go for it more often?
"You'd have to ask..." Manning said, his voice trailing off.
Labeling Fox conservative is an Internet rumor that won't die. The Broncos were ahead 38-21, with 4 minutes left, when Manning threw his third interception.
That means the Broncos were still passing with a 38-21 lead and 4 minutes left.
Conservative is what Andy Reid is doing in Kansas City. And that works for them.
But conservative is not what Fox is doing in Denver. Conservative doesn't score 44 touchdowns over the first eight games, an NFL record and 17 more than anyone else, or 38 points in the second half of Sunday's game, tying a franchise record.
But to ditch the label and go all the way, Fox and the Broncos must continue to go for it.
Risky like a Fox.